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On the southern coast of Italy’s countryside, amidst golden coastline, rocky mountain hills, and Azure-blue skies lies a town of undisputed longevity. In Acciaroli, it is very common for people to live to a hundred years or more, while the town’s number of centenarians go to more than 300. For a town of just about 2000 residents, this is saying something.

In addition to boasting more 100-year-old elders than most cities of much greater size, Acciaroli also has very low rates of illness such as Alzheimer’s and heart disease when it comes to their elderly residents. They also enjoy an unusually high quality of life at a very high age. Most people of a similar age – living in more developed countries or cities – have developed cataracts and suffer from various age-related diseases.

What is the secret to their longevity?

Researchers from the Sapineza University in Rome, as well as the Sandiego School of Medicine, spent about six months in the area, in order to determine the reason for their incredible health. After testing blood samples of about 80 elderly residents, they discovered that these people boasted very low levels of the hormone adrenomedullin. In fact, their levels of this hormone were similar to those of a 20- or 30-year-old.

Locals in Acciaroli enjoy a largely stress-free existence, with lots of fresh produce and vegetables grown by hand, fresh fish caught locally, home-reared poultry, olive oil, and cibo made at home. These factors have been known to have a very beneficial influence on people’s health, but this typical Mediterranean diet and lifestyle is practiced all over Italy and Greece. So what makes this town different?

Enthusiastic lovers of a particular herb

One distinguishing element that must be noted is that the inhabitants of Acciaroli are big growers and consumers of rosemary. This herb plays a very important role in their diets, where it is used as a key ingredient in everything, from salad dressings and pasta garnish to marinade for seafood. In the area surrounding the town, rosemary is grown abundantly, not only in the gardens of the locals, but it also occurs naturally in the surrounding hills. In various studies done on the herb, it has been shown that rosemary contains carnosic acid. Some of the compounds in this acid have proven to help improve memory and eye health and fend off free radical brain damage. Other studies indicate that rosemary has anti-inflammatory and tumor-fighting properties.

Acciaroli is located in an area that not only sports excellent weather but has little industry, resulting in clean, fresh air for its inhabitants. Due to this, they enjoy an active existence, hiking and walking outdoors regularly and spending time at the beach, which is also said to be great for longevity and relieves stress naturally.

Johane du Toit

Johane du Toit

Johané du Toit is the Health Writer at Longevity Magazine. With an Honours degree in journalism from the North-West University at Potchefstroom, she has a keen interest in medical and scientific innovations and aspires to provide the public with the latest reliable news in the fields of medicine, fitness, wellness, and science. Johane is happiest outdoors, preferably near a large body of water or in the mountains, and loves waterskiing, cooking, travelling and reading.

The content in this editorial is for general information only and is not intended to provide medical or other professional advice. For more information on your medical condition and treatment options, speak to your healthcare professional.